Two-factor authentication is a must these days, but the most popular method of account security – texting, is not bad enough. With just a call to your phone carrier and a little social engineering, your two-factor codes are vulnerable to interception, so if you really want to lock your accounts, you need the best security keys. Security keys must be present when you sign in to your accounts – making sure you, and only you, can sign in. YubiKey 5 NFC, offers USB convenience for the best MacBook, as well as NFC for iPhone 12, making it our top choice. If you’re ready to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts, these are the best security keys you can buy today.
The best general: Yubico – YubiKey 5 NFC
YubiKey 5 NFC Yubico is a multifunctional multifunctional security solution that can go with you on your travels with a compact design and an integrated keychain loop. This versatile key has a universal USB-A connector so you can connect it to your computer, plus NFC allows wireless connectivity with the latest iOS and Android phones. Having both options ensures that you always have a way to access your services, no matter what device you are on.
Like other Yubico security keys, the YubiKey 5 NFC supports a wide range of protocols such as FIDO U2F, FIDO2, OpenPGP and OATH-TOTP, making it one of the most compatible keys around. Multi-protocol support means that YubiKey 5 NFC works with the most popular applications and services, including Dropbox, Outlook, 1Password, Gmail and Facebook, with minimal configuration right from the start.
- Multi-protocol support
- USB-A and NFC connectivity
- Works with phones, computers and tablets
- Integrated keychain loop
- USB-A only
- No Bluetooth option
The best general
Yubico – YubiKey 5 NFC
Best for most
YubiKey 5 NFC Yubico offers universal USB-A authentication for computers and NFC for modern phones.
Best Price: FIDO U2F security key, Thetis
The Thetis FIDO U2F security key makes you enter the hardware game with two factors at an affordable price, suitable for your wallet. As the name suggests, this key is FIDO U2F certified, allowing two-factor support for websites such as Facebook, Dropbox and Google. In addition, it works with Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome operating systems. However, unlike Yubico’s security keys, it does not accept email clients and is limited to the U2F protocol only.
Despite the low price, the Thetis FIDO U2F security key has a durable aluminum frame, which protects you in two factors from everyday events, such as drops and swelling. The USB-A port is also kept safe, with a unique rotating design that removes it when not in use, and the key can live on the keychain with the integrated loop.
- USB-A compatibility
- Foldable design with keychain loop
- USB-A connection only
- Does not support mobile devices
- Does not work with email clients
FIDO U2F security key, Thetis
With an affordable price and a foldable design, the Thetis FIDO U2F security key is an excellent choice for backup authentication.
Best for mobile: Yubico YubiKey 5Ci
If you are still an older iPhone or Android phone, but want to lock your accounts with a two-factor hardware solution, then YubiKey 5Ci is for you. This unique security key has a dual USB-C connector design on it. one end and an iOS-compatible Lightning connector on the other, putting authentication just a simple tap and touch.
Because the YubiKey 5Ci is for mobile, it has a keychain loop for convenient storage and you don’t have to worry about still managing a battery with its plug-in design. This key also supports all the latest protocols that allow on-the-go access for social media, email, and more.
- Works with iOS and Android phones
- Lighting and USB-C connectors
- Integrated keychain loop
- It has no wireless connectivity
Best for mobile
Yubico YubiKey 5Ci
Compatible with Android and iOS
YubiKey 5Ci plays nicely with most Android and iOS phones and tablets, thanks to the dual USB-C and Lightning connectors.
Best for Windows desktops: Kensington VeriMark Desktop USB fingerprint key reader
The VeriMark Desktop Kensington USB fingerprint reader takes a different approach to two-factor authentication, with a combination of a stationary, desktop-compatible design and biometric security. This key supports up to 10 different fingerprints, putting another level of protection on your accounts and is so secure that it is certified for use in government institutions.
Along with FIDO U2F and FIDO2 compatibility, the Kensington VeriMark Desktop security key is Windows Hello certified, so you (and your colleagues) can connect to your computer without having to enter a long password. The only downside? Kensington’s security key no more works with Windows 7 PCs and later – does not support macOS or Chrome OS here.
- It supports ten fingerprints
- Convenient desktop design
- Windows Hello Certificate
- Does not support macOS
- It is not portable
Best for Windows desktops
Kensington VeriMark Desktop USB fingerprint key reader
Perfect for the desktop, Kensington VeriMark has biometric authentication and Windows Hello certification.
Best compatibility: Google Titan Bluetooth security key
The Titan Bluetooth security key works with computers, tablets and phones via Bluetooth, NFC or a classic micro-USB connection. Although it comes from Google, the Titan security key is not limited to Google services, as it supports the open FIDO U2F standard, so you can use it to authenticate with a number of services and applications.
For moving authentication, the Titan security key has an integrated rechargeable battery and attaches to keychains with the on-board loop. The Google key is also surprisingly affordable, but it may not be the most durable with its plastic frame and is a little bulkier than the competition.
- Low price
- Designed by Google
- Supports Bluetooth, NFC and USB
- Plastic frame
- Micro-USB connection
The best compatibility
Google Titan Bluetooth security key
Log in wirelessly
Google’s Bluetooth Titan security key lets you log in on iOS and Android without codes – and wires.
Best for laptops: Yubico – YubiKey 5C Nano
Yubico’s Yubikey 5C Nano takes miniaturization to the extreme with an incredibly small module that doesn’t look out of place when attached to modern laptops via USB-C. The smaller footprint is as capable as the larger YubiKeys, as it supports all the same standards, including FIDO U2F and FIDO2, and still requires a touch for authentication.
The 5C Nano is also as robust and durable as other water safety, handling and crushing resistance keys. The only thing the 5C lacks is wireless connectivity, which prevents iPhones from joining hardware security entertainment because it uses USB-C.
- Incredibly small
- Works with Windows, macOS, Chrome OS and Linux
- No wireless option
Best for laptops
Yubico – YubiKey 5C Nano
Elegant and safe
Keep your accounts safe without compromising your laptop’s smart design with Yubico’s small Nano security key.
Nothing goes beyond the existence of a physical security key in conjunction with two-factor authentication when it comes to securing accounts. By connecting critical services, such as your email account, with the best security keys, you can reassure yourself that you’re the only one who can access them – as opposed to SMS codes that are subject to social engineering attacks via mobile operators.
YubiKey 5 NFC from Yubico is our choice for the best security key for most, with its ability to work with a wide range of devices and a slick form factor. YubiKey 5 NFC has both a standard USB-A connector, which makes it compatible with computers of all ages – and with NFC wireless technology, you can connect to your accounts on the best iPhone just by having it close. The YubiKey 5 NFC is also incredibly compact and lightweight, making it easy to keep on you at all times, as you can slip it directly onto your keychain.
Credits – The team that worked on this guide
Christopher Close he spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit for iMore. If you want to join him in his quest to automate everything, you can follow him on Twitter at @itschrisclose.
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